Yes, we CAN
Friday October 02, 2009
Dear Dr. Miller,
This is just to thank you so sincerely for your books and tell you of my great admiration. I have read four and they have truly given me a new perspective.
There are some other wonderful readings that seem to perfectly complement and reinforce yours, such as Judith Lewis Herman M.D.’s Trauma and Recovery, the chapter on child abuse. She introduces a revolutionary concept, chronic PTSD, (CPTSD), arising from prolonged and repeated traumas, as opposed to PTSD from a one-time event. Although slanted a bit toward sexually abused children, she describes so well how a child’s personality is formed and deformed through being brought up in a concentration-camp type atmosphere, such as the one I was born into and raised in.
My calvary began as soon as I was conceived; my mother told me that was when my brutal, physically violent and verbally abusive alcoholic narcissistic father began physically hitting her. My mother tells me that although we had free medical care (being military), my father refused to let her take me when I became deathly ill as an infant. I know he was abusing me in infancy due to comments he made to me when I got older, eg., that as a baby I hadn’t been nice enough to him and so on.
Along with receiving slaps and strappings for no reason except that he had sudden violent rages, I had to suffer in seeing his vicious cruelties to my mother and younger brother, any pets we had, and eventually, aunts and uncles, and my stepmother after he remarried. His weapons included the use of fear and intimidation; strict orders; forced feeding; forced exercise; standing at attention; denial of sleep; forcing me to behave like a bully and fight others; enjoying it when I was bullied by other children; isolation and separation from other family, neighbors, and potential friends.
His method was to stand over us when performing tasks or chores with a running commentary of how poorly we were doing; even with all of that, our work was inevitably found deficient and defective. He had insulting names for us: my mother was crazy and stupid; I was fat, stupid, ugly, clumsy and an underachiever; my brother was a sissy and crybaby.
I heard these messages so many times that I literally developed no self beyond the “not good”, “not good enough” inadequate performer. I would have been demoralized if I’d only had to hear all his continual negatives about my mother. He remembered to tell me several times how my being born ruined his life and how fortunate I was that he wasn’t a rapist like so many other fathers.
He was jailed several times for attacking persons and got away without jail too many times. Did he actually kill any persons, no one knows as he never talked to us, though that may have been the case. In every respect, living with a serial murderer would not have been much different.
Due to him, my mother eventually developed paranoid schizophrenia at the age of 50; she spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals battling insanity. She had been so mentally ill that while hallucinating she tried to take her life as well as my brother’s and mine in a very brutal way when I was 14 and my brother was 10. Her care was eventually released by the hospital system into my safekeeping. Fortunately by then I had a bachelor’s degree in the social sciences and had taken a few psychology courses.
In her book on trauma, Aphrodite Matsakis talks about secondary wounding, which has been the second story of my life. Others who have no idea of the private hell which some children must endure, only see the results in their sad demeanor and lack of social skills. Those youngsters have the added burden of shunning and exclusion by their peers.
The third story is when my father met another woman at work and dumped my mother. By then my mother was so ill that we kids had to go live with them. The stepmother was the opposite of the sweet soul my mother was. Like my father, she was ice-cold, selfish, manipulative. A few years later, my poor brother completely lost his mental health.
This is my story in brief outline. I have much enjoyed reading in your books about the childhoods of Hitler, Kafka, and others, and agree that they were defined by being abused in childhood. You have done a brilliant analysis of the Old Testament Garden of Eden Tree of Knowledge myth. Afterward, I read Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason that also speaks to this baloney and how ridiculous it is. I was thrilled by your amazingly insightful analysis of Sigmund Freud.
I thank you again and will always do what I can to spread the word about your books. History will find that you have earned a lasting place. You and those like you will, hopefully soon, lead us to a whole new, better, chapter in the story of human life.
PS If you wish to print this please do.
AM: Your clarity is amazing, after such a terrible childhood. Thank you for the permission to publish your story, it can be helpfull forAM: Your clarity is amazing, after such a terrible childhood. Thank you for the permission to publish your story, it can be helpfull for others to see that even with your brutal history you can heal if you dare to see your truth without betraing yourself. I can only congratulate you.